April 19, 2017
Military.com: by Richard Sisk
The Veterans of Foreign Wars ripped the House Veterans Affairs Committee Tuesday for considering a proposal to slap troops with a so-called “enrollment fee” for access to GI Bill education benefits.
“This new tax on troops is absurd,” Brian Duffy, National Commander of the 1.7 million-member vets group, said in a release. “Ensuring veterans are able to successfully transition back to civilian life after military service is a cost of war, and not a fee that Congress can just pass along to our troops.”
In a statement, the committee didn’t directly respond to the VFW charges but said that changes to the GI Bill and to benefits for survivors and spouses would be among a number of proposals considered next week at a hearing. The proposal on a fee for access to the GI Bill was first reported by Task & Purpose.
Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), the committee’s chairman, and other members welcomed feedback from witnesses and veterans service organizations “on whether all, some or none of the proposals under consideration advance through the Committee,” the statement said.
Prior to 2008, service members had the option of paying into the Montgomery GI Bill, an educational benefit created during peacetime that came with a $1,200 non-reimbursable enrollment fee.
The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, or GI Bill, signed into law by President George W. Bush included funding to pay 100 percent of a public four-year undergraduate education to a veteran who had served three years on active duty since Sept. 11, 2001. The act also provided the ability for the veteran to transfer benefits to a spouse or children after serving (or agreeing to serve) ten years.
The VFW charged that the proposal under consideration by the House committee would impose out-of-pocket fees on troops that could amount to $2,400 for access to GI Bill benefits.
“We are still a nation at war. We have troops actively engaged in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and now in Syria,” Duffy said. “Congress’ focus should be on defeating our enemies and ending the war, not cutting the benefits of those who are fighting it. Congress must stop nickeling and diming America’s service members and veterans.”
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Disclaimer: This article was not written by Silent Soldier.